Sample P20 from Spencer Norris, "Dirty Dog Inn," The Dude, 6: 1 (September, 1961) 9-10, 28-30. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,003 words 191 (9.5%) quotes 1 symbolP20

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Spencer Norris, "Dirty Dog Inn," The Dude, 6: 1 (September, 1961) 9-10, 28-30.

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I was slowly swimming down to the bottom of the sea . She made me welcome . Her dark cool caresses were sweeter than any woman's ; ; the many little tricks she knew made her embrace the ultimate one -- the ever more fantastic pressures deeper in her body squeezed not me but the air I breathed into a nitrogen anesthetic . yielding-Mediterranian-woman- , she soothed me , and drew me deeper into her .

I no longer knew how deep I was , somewhere under 230 feet , getting drunker , happier and more contented by the second . The reasons for this dive seemed foolish now . Only the dive itself had any meaning . The metal-tasting nitrogen made me wonder if I should remove the mouthpiece and suck in the sweet water . Perhaps if I took off the aqua-lung I could swim better , love my woman better . I chuckled aloud , and the mouthpiece fell out .

While a hazy part of my mind concentrated on swimming down , a clear part sorted over recent events , among them my only positive act in a long time . It was when I packed up what duds I had and went to Paris . It was no vacation , just me getting out after a bellyfull . I knew it wouldn't be the same . Wild kicks never are , but I hoped to dig up a better frame of mind .

Once before I had been to Paris , long before I married Valery . That first time was good and it stuck with me . I was twenty-one back then , in the army , and fog put our plane down at Orly instead of Rhine-Main . It was a Saturday evening in April with a mist-like rain , and I was a little high on the good taste of life . I had a pocketful of money , which was unusual when I was in the army , and the plane would be grounded all night . In less than an hour I had gotten a hotel , showered , shaved and was out on the Champs Elysees in a fresh uniform . I felt like a Hun in Rome .

All the women were beautiful , and the men were equal to them ; ; everything was glamorous to my dazzled eyes . There were some sweet machines other than women : an old Bugatti , a lean Farina coachwork on an American chassis , a Swallow , a type A40-AjK Mercedes and lots more . There was the Arc de Triomphe and the Tour d'Eiffel -- I was no yokel , but I was young , and this was Paris ! !

I had champagne at Maxim's , then went into a cafe called the Jour et Nuit to ask the way to Montmartre . I never got there . I met Claire , which was better . She was eating bread and cheese just as fast as she possibly could , and washing it down with red wine . I stared . I didn't know a human could feed so fast and still be beautiful . She was blonde , and young , and nice and round in a tight white dress . Maybe her ravenous eating wasn't grotesque because she was so positive about it .

When she had drained the last of the bottle and paid her bill , she came directly to my table and said :

`` Handsome soldier , I have assuaged one hunger with food . I feel another of terrible urgency . Is your evening free '' ? ?

`` Madame '' , I said with noblesse oblige because of the `` handsome '' -- `` yeah '' .

And so off we went to her apartment . She was a nymphomaniac , of course , the poor girl . Toward the break of day I waxed philosophical , and drew analogies about her way of eating bread and cheese .

Now it was nine years later , and it wasn't spring but winter when I returned .

I got there on a Saturday evening . I made the mistake of going to the Jour et Nuit . The place was busy but I didn't feel like a Hun . I sat waiting for Life to come along and sweep me up . I had part of a bottle of French beer called Panther Pils ( so help me ) , then switched to Tuborg . After a few hours , Life hadn't showed , and I was crocked . I went to my hotel and slept . The next morning a little cognac made me feel better -- but what can you do in Paris on Sunday morning ? ? So I drank more cognac .

All that day and Monday I drank just enough to orbit but not make deep space . I read the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer . Elemental , but sex . That's what was on my mind . I was turning over the idea of a good debauchery when I dozed off .

I felt better Tuesday evening when I woke up . My head was clear , my thinking sober and I was reconciled to this Paris idea as a flop on top of all my others . A good binge has that kind of therapeutic value .

Sometime earlier the weather had turned cold and it was snowing . I went out into it . I walked around breathing the cold wine of the air until I found a park , and I sat down on a snowy bench where the light was dim and came from the sky . There was dignity and beauty in the little white flakes falling through the blue night . I had on only a topcoat , but I wasn't cold . I was just miserable .

Pretty soon a woman came along carrying a folded umbrella as a walking stick . She saw me and sat down beside me , three feet away . Suddenly I understood why she had the umbrella . It gave her poise and posture . Without it she would have been drab and limp . It gave her propriety . It gave her the right to sit down beside me , back straight , one hand out on the handle . I couldn't imagine her without it . I knew all about her . She was another human being and happened to be a hustler . I didn't much care if she were there or not .

After a while she said with sort of an unuttered laugh , `` You have snow in your hair and ears '' . ( I didn't have on a hat .

Hardly glancing at her , I smiled a bleak one which said , Thanks , baby , but I'd rather be alone .

She was silent for a while , then said , `` Why are you so unhappy '' ? ?

`` I'm not unhappy '' , I lied , staring at the snow . She was trying to make a hole in my armor , and I didn't want it .

`` Is it a woman '' ? ? She asked gently . She must have seen the ring on my left hand .

`` Well -- women and unhappiness go together '' , I observed profoundly , adding , `` You can wager your derriere on that '' .

`` Ah , Monsieur , it is not my business to wager it .

This took me so funny I had to look at her . I felt my frozen sad face crumble , and I grinned a silly one I couldn't have helped . I even snorted a chuckle .

She smiled at me , but it was an awfully sad smile . She was even more miserable than me . Her eyes were smiling , too , but so sadly , and there was tiredness and infinite wisdom in them . `` Now isn't it better to smile '' ? ? She asked .

Because I liked this sad person so much , I said , `` Will you have a drink with me '' ? ?

I could see the ancient cynicism reinforce itself in her eyes , and I wondered how many men she had picked up with this same gambit .

Anyway , I pulled a bottle of Remy Martin out of my topcoat , drew the cork , and passed it to her .

I could see she was shocked .

`` I'm sorry I haven't got a glass '' , I said .

`` Non , non '' , she said , taking the bottle , `` not for that be sorry '' .

She tilted up and drank , and then I drank . It's really rotten to drink good cognac like that , but I hadn't cared before . I wasn't going to lug around a glass .

There wasn't much light in the blue dark , but I could see her well . No child , this tart , she must have been thirty-five or even forty . I couldn't be sure . Somehow she was attractive . Not good looking , but self-confident and wise so that it made her attractive . I liked her , and all at once I was glad she was there .

We finished the bottle -- I hadn't had a lot out of it earlier -- not speaking much to each other , and we stayed sober .

I suppose we were cold , but we didn't feel it . We seemed to be drowsing , sadly , soberly , in the cold , cold air while the snow fell . Then she said , `` Allons '' , and we got up and went to my hotel without another word .

I sensed no stranger in her . We undressed and made love with the comfortable acceptance I had once known with Valery . I decided thirty-five was the best estimate of her age . She had a funny little scar on her stomach , on the left side .

I think we were very tired , for we awoke at the same moment , deeply rested , surprised to see the late morning sun on the windows , which were wet where the rime had melted .

I felt wonderful , the absolute opposite of last night's melancholy . My head was clear . I was hungry as a wolf , and my body felt lean and vital .

`` Bon jour '' , I said brightly , sitting up , which pulled the covers to her hips . She looked good , with her short tousled hair and no make-up . Maybe closer to thirty , I thought .

`` Bon jour '' ! ! She exclaimed , smiling . `` J'ai faim '' ! ! `` Yeah , but breakfast first '' .

With a laugh she beat me to the bathroom . I called downstairs for food and a toothbrush for her . She came out pink from a hot bath , and I gave her my robe . I had brushed my teeth , showered , shaved and dressed by the time a waiter wheeled in breakfast .

`` The toothbrush Monsieur '' , he said , presenting it . I gave it to the woman .

`` What is this for '' ? ? She asked innocently .

`` Why , to brush your teeth '' .

`` But I already have ! ! I used yours '' .

`` Oh '' ? ? I said with round eyes . I wondered if I ought to go use the new one myself . But I smelled the coffee , and thinking , What the hell , live dangerously , I decided I would scald my worries away . The coffee wasn't very hot though , made in a filter pot , but it was good . We sent the waiter away and ate a tremendous amount of cold ham , hot hard-boiled eggs and hot garlic bread . As we ate , we talked . Her name was Suzanne , and mine Stephen .

We sat back comfortably on the bed with our last cups of coffee .

`` You are very tactful , do you know , Stephen '' , she remarked .

`` Um '' ? ? I grunted , sipping .

`` Yes , because you didn't run off to use that new toothbrush '' .

I raised my eyes to look at her in the mirror .

`` I didn't really use yours '' , she went on . `` I carry one in my purse . I know men never kiss les putains '' .

To my immense relief , she changed the subject in the next sentence : `` Shall we go to the Louvre today '' ? ?

`` All right '' . I said with enthusiasm at the idea . `` But not immediately '' . I put aside my empty cup . She smiled all the way to her wise , sad eyes , and drained her own .

We were not rushed .

`` What is this from '' ? ? I asked , touching the scar on her stomach . It was like a long thin line drawn through a pink circle .

`` A bullet '' , she answered . The cynicism was back in her eyes , a bitter wisdom , and I wondered if forty were not so far wrong after all . She understood sex anyway , and played at it well .

We went to the Louvre for a few hours , then by Metro to a cabaret in Montmartre .

It was a nice place , not filled with smoke . We had champagne and steamed mussels . The sommelier brought the wine first , a magnum instead of the bottle I had ordered . He must have thought I was a tourist .

I fixed him with a steely eye and said , `` What's this for ? ? I didn't ask for a Jeroboam of champagne '' .

I thought that was pretty humorous , but I didn't laugh .